Comedienne. Actress. Singer. Author. All of these words describe Sandra Bernhard. She has been touring the nation with her act – “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?” - and performed on Friday, March 1, at 8:00 PM at Alice R. Manicur Assembly (ARMAH) Hall at FSU Lane University Center. It was a Live at Starscape Event, part of the Cultural Event Series.
The comedienne is best known for her role as Nancy Bartlett on the 1990’s sitcom Roseanne. Nancy was co-owner of the LunchBox, where Roseanne worked. Bernhard was on the show from 1991 – 1996. Her character was married to Arnie, Dan’s friend, played by Rosanne’s then real-life husband, Tom Arnold. Nancy later left Arnie, revealing she was gay. Nancy was the first openly gay character in television history.
Bernhard is known in standup comedy as being raunchy. Gary Brumburgh, a writer at IDMB, an entertainment database, describes Bernhard as “racy, confrontational, offensive, cynical, off-putting and angst-ridden to a tee.” Her act was racy but toned down. However, not to the point where she lost her comedic edge. An Los Angeles Times writer wrote, “’The experience is like hanging out with a hip and funny friend who never fails to lift you up with her outrageous freedom’” (Los Angeles Times, 8/11).
She is not the typical comedienne, telling only jokes. She played the tambourine, sang in Spanish, with her pianist playing the tune, and parodied one of Lady Gaga’s songs. Bernhard commented on politics, Michelle Obama’s bangs, religion, her non-traditional family and raising 16-year-old daughter Cecily, and the recession. She said she buys her products and a discount online and gives them as gifts.
One audience member enjoyed Berhnard’s act so much that he yelled in agreement at parts of the act, causing her to stop – at least twice. Bernhard reminded him who the real comedian was by saying some choice words to him. She also asked if it was the first time he had been out in a long time. She later told him that she was joking with him.
Bernhard has been performing comedy since the 1970s, starting at L.A.’s Comedy Store, the crème de la crème of comedy clubs. It is where people who are serious about performing comedy hone their comedic skills or get their start. Comedians such as Richard Pryor performed there. He also gave Bernhard a chance as an actress on his television show, The Richard Pryor Show.
Bernhard has tour dates scheduled so far until March 2014. The 57-year-old shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. After the show ended, she asked people to buy some of her products and said she was taking cash only. She said if people did not have cash, she would wait for them until they drove to the ATM, withdraw the money and come back to Frostburg. People laughed.
In ARMAH’s lobby there was a table full of Bernhard’s merchandise: t-shirts with her picture on them, DVDs and posters. When she sat down at her table to sign autographs, I took the opportunity to tell her that I used to watch her on Rosanne when I was in high school. “Thank you, Honey, and keep watching,” she said.
Some of Bernhard’s work includes the following:
Everything Is Bad and Beautiful, 2006
The Sandra Bernhard Experience, 1999
Whatever It Takes, (Mi5)
I’m Your Woman (Polygram, 1986),
Hot in Cleveland, Nan, 2011
Girlfriends, Marcia, 2003
Dare, Dr. Serena Mohr, 2009
Trade 29, Nurse Stein, 1988
Books & Articles:
Love, Love and Love (HarperCollins, 1994)
Confessions of a Pretty Lady (Harper&Row, 1988)
She’s written articles for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler, Rolling Stone, Interview, and Spy
More on Bernhard’s biography and work can be found at http://www.sandrabernhard.com/biography/ and http://www.idmb.com
More of Bernhard’s work can be found at http://www.sandrabernhard.com/biography/ and http://www.idmb.com